Los Angeles Lakers draft pick Lonzo Ball, right, is hugged by Magic Johnson after the NBA basketball team's news conference, in El Segundo, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
So, imagine this.
The seven-foot tall Brook Lopez, now wearing the purple and gold, hauling down a rebound off of an opponent’s missed shot. He pivots towards his team’s basket and throws an outlet pass to the young 19-year-old proudly hailed by Magic Johnson as the “new face of the Lakers.’
Lonzo Ball was destined to be a Los Angeles Laker. At least, that’s what his outspoken father, LaVar said. In fact, LaVar said he envisioned this moment from the day he first laid eyes on his wife, Tina. He even began telling every being that crossed his path the day Lonzo was born in Anaheim, California, that his son would be great. Now, after playing with his younger brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo in Chino Hills High School and leading the NCAA in assists (7.6 APG) during his lone season in UCLA, Lonzo is now primed and ready for the grandest stage of them all.
“I run Chino Hills! I run UCLA, about to run the NBA!” is what LaVar told Lonzo’s high school coach, Stephan Gilling. In a way, LaVar is right. Because his son has been able to turn his vision into a reality, doing things their way, the Big Baller way.
The number two overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Lonzo Ball, receives the pass for Lopez. His $495 shoes, made by his family’s Big Baller Brand, squeaks on the wooden floor of the famed Staples Center as he begins the fastbreak.
As a player, Magic Johnson won five NBA Championships in the 80s (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988). During that decade, Magic ushered in an exciting, fast-paced style of basketball known as “Showtime.” The charismatic 6’9” point guard wooed audiences with his “no-look” passes to teammates like James Worthy and Byron Scott, giving them easy opportunities to score on the break.
Now that Magic is running the LA Lakers as President of Basketball Operations, he wants Lonzo to do the same thing he did back in the day.
The lead actor of the “Showtime” remake sees his co-stars up ahead. He’s got Jordan Clarkson sprinting towards the right corner and Brandon Ingram heading to the left wing. Coming down the lane in the middle is Julius Randle, who is looking to seal his man in the paint. Before he even crosses the half court line, Lonzo throws a lead pass to Clarkson.
Helping Magic rebuild the Lakers is General Manager, Rob Pelinka. Pelinka is popularly known as the former agent of Kobe Bryant. He has also represented the likes of James Harden, Chris Bosh and Andre Iguodala. A University of Michigan Law School graduate, Pelinka believes that Lonzo is a “transcendent talent.’
“The way he passes the ball, you look at quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, that just have a gift. It’s clearly a gift with what he’s been blessed with,” said Pelinka.
The pass is right on the money. Clarkson is squared up and ready to launch a three-point shot. But, he hesitates as his peripheral vision reveals his quick defender on the recovery. The shooting guard decides to play it safe and gives the ball back to Lonzo on a hand-off. While this is happening, Randle has already abandoned his early entry in the post to give a back pick to Ingram’s man.
Seven years have passed since the LA Lakers’ last celebrated an NBA Championship. And after four straight years of missing the Playoffs, the longest postseason drought in franchise history, the pressure has been placed on Lonzo to be the catalyst for change. Despite having to deal with such a daunting task, Lonzo seems unfazed.
For Lonzo, he’s just “playing the game of basketball” which is the game he’s been “playing his whole life.”
The play develops as Ingram goes backdoor to the hoop, uncontested as his defended gets caught on the Randle screen. Lonzo quickly tosses the ball up in the air. Cameras flash as Ingram completes the alley-oop.
Magic smiles. Pelinka nods his head. LaVar screams, “I told you!”
Welcome to the new era of “Showtime”. Or “SHO’TIME” as the Big Baller Brand would call it.
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